Exercise is crucial for health and longevity. A huge study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in May 2016, on 1.44 million Americans and Europeans, has linked a high level of physical activity to a reduction in the risk of 13 different cancers, including breast, colon, lung, and liver.1 A low level of fitness is known to be a risk factor for cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.2
So there is no question that exercise is a key factor in the health and fitness of your body. Yet, for many people, the question is how much time and ability is necessary for exercise to be beneficial? The good news is that even short sessions of exercise bring big results. The bad news is Americans are not getting enough exercise.
How much exercise is enough to be valuable?
The current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans call for adults to do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, and they recommend doubling that amount of activity for additional substantial benefits to health. In addition, the guidelines call for moderate- to high-intensity strength training at least two days per week.
The percentage of Americans who meet these guidelines has improved from 15.1 percent in 2000 to 21.5 percent in 2014, but that still leaves the vast majority getting inadequate activity.3